MasterCard is a credit and debit card run by a cooperative of over 25,000 financial institutions all across the world. These institutions can issue credit and debit cards under the MasterCard brand which allow consumers to pay for goods, services and information over a broad spectrum of merchants, banks, shops and credit unions. This makes MasterCard one of the most used and accepted payment methods worldwide. The MasterCard was created to compete against VISA which was originally known as BankAmeriCard and issued by Bank of America before changing their name.
In 1969 MasterCard was launched as "Master Charge", an interbank card created by four separate financial institutions to compete for the credit-based market which was mostly controlled by Bank of America. These four institutions were Wells Fargo, The United California Bank, The Crocker National bank and The Bank of California. In 1969, First National City Bank decided to join Master Charge and in 1979 the name was changed to MasterCard. Interestingly enough, neither MasterCard nor VISA were the first charge cards in the market, since they were both preceeded by Diners Club, which is still in use around the world but to a much lesser degree than the before-mentioned options. The key to MasterCard's success was their strategy to merge with more financial institutions, broadening their reach and range. This included British Access Card and Europay International (Eurocard). In 2006 the conglomerate changed its name once again to MasterCard Worldwide, making reference to its global reach capabilities.
MasterCard has also issued a number of debit cards under its umbrella, like Switch, Solo, Everything card and Eurocard. Switch and Solo merged into what is now known as Maestro debit card (owned by MasterCard). The number of financial institutions under the MasterCard brand keeps growing and now include such heavy hitters as Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, Lloyds of London and BNP Paribas amongst many more. Thus, both MasterCard an VISA now hold an unspoken monopoly over the global credit and debit markets. There is no denying that MasterCard has now become one of the world's preferred payment methods for everything from goods to services and informational acquisitions. It is also on of the most common and preferred payment methods for online casinos worldwide. If your online casino of choice does not accept deposits over MasterCard, then you should really look into the reasons for not doing so since this would immediately raise suspicions about the reliability of the vendor.
MasterCard and online gambling
MasterCard was widely available in almost every single online casino for many years, prior to the UIGEA incident of 2006. Then US facing online casinos were forced to stop accepting payment from US residents, especially those wanting to deposit with a credit card. Later, in 2010, MasterCard changed their policies regarding online payments for online casinos dictating that MasterCard brand cards and accounts could be used for making deposits only but not withdrawals.
A lot of online casinos, including the mayor software developers like Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech and Cryptologic started asking their customers to switch from MasterCard to VISA to avoid any problems and to secure a smooth deposit and withdrawal process. MasterCard kept their restrictions on online gambling very strict and to this day you are allowed to deposit but not withdraw using this method. This opened the market for e-wallet companies looking to make a gain from these restrictive policies and companies like Moneybookers (now Skrill) and Neteller started offering virtual transactions to and from online casinos with the option of having those withdrawn funds able for use in their MasterCard issued debit cards.
MasterCard remains more selective and restrictive than VISA in regards to online gambling transactions. This has not deterred most online casinos from offering MasterCard as a payment method and it is still one of the highest recommended and secure ways to deposit, as long as you don't withdrawing using other alternative cashier options.
US friendly casinos and MasterCard
Despite all the problems the UIGEA brought with its passing and the proactive steps taken by many online casinos regarding credit card funding and especially after the change in terms and conditions imposed by MasterCard, its popularity barely waned from the online gambling industry. Many online casinos kept offering it as a method for depositing, even US friendly ones. One example of this is Real Time Gaming (RTG), the casino vendor based in Costa Rica and licensed in Curaçao kept accepting MasterCard payments from players and many of the casinos operating under RTG still do so to date.
RTG is but one example of US friendly sites and operators accepting MasterCard for deposits. Other such companies include Rival Gaming and Top Game. Both these vendors are quite small compared to the European competition but they saw a niche which was left unattended once the European developers and operators pulled out of the US market. They started offering their services to US players, including payment processing via credit and debit cards.
MasterCard is still one of the dominating payment methods used by most online casinos today. They, along with VISA, hold a monopoly over credit and debit card services worldwide an it is very unlikely that this situation should change any time soon. Now, especially with the US online gambling market slowly reopening (with Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware already on-board) they might see a growth in their online gambling related operations. Bottom line, MasterCard is safe, secure, fast and easy to deposit with. The only drawback is that you won't be able to withdraw your winnings back into the card.